birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Duck and Cover

I read the text from my husband as saying, “Eric called and the news is too terrible.” I was walking across campus, and I immediately went to worst case scenarios. Eric is my husband’s brother, and I knew his diabetic son has just broken his leg so I thought something horrible had happened to him. I was jumping into emergency response mode.

I stopped and reread the text still in the spring sunlight. This time I thought it said, “Eric, the tax guy called, and the news is too terrible.” My worst case scenarios then shifted to how were we going to come up with what was probably hundreds of dollars in tax payments. I was already wondering if we could ask for a payment plan.

I finally got back to my office and read the text again in normal light. It said, “Eric, the tax guy called, and the news is not too terrible.” I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I called my husband to ask what the message meant. He didn’t want to sound too positive, he said; but it was looking like we’d get a refund. I told him about my misunderstandings of his text and how I was immediately jumping to bad conclusions.

He understood. He said that he read my text from a couple nights before about leaving his dinner in the microwave as saying I was leaving him. He had to read it a couple of times and remind himself that I probably wouldn’t do that by text.

How scary is your day-to-day life when you immediately assume the worst when a family member sends a text?


Lesson Learned